Dear Dr.Eve – Looking for love

I am so lonely. Maybe you’ve never felt this way, but I can tell you, it
sucks. I am a divorced man, my wife had an affair and left me, taking the
children with her. I feel empty, unwanted. I crave people but I do not
have the energy to connect with the few people I do know or no way can
I make new friends.
I have always felt unlovable as my parents were not around and when
they were, they kind of ignored me. I was one of those guys who was shy
with women so my wife was my first love and lover. Now I’m alone. .. and
lonely.
Please can you introduce me to someone?
“Looking for Love”.

Dr.Eve Responds…

DEAR LOOKING FOR LOVE,


If it is any comfort to you, you are not alone. It appears that men are
suffering from loneliness more than women. And since covid-19 loneliness
hit an all-time high, even recognized as an epidemic, especially amongst
men.
Loneliness was the first recognized painful experience of man. Hence Eve
arriving in the Garden of Eden. She was created as an antidote to Adam’s
loneliness. Like you, many people, especially men, feel utterly shamed by
loneliness. Culturally and socially we have created this stigma around
loneliness. And this adds to the burden of emotional pain so many people
experience.

Let’s try to define “loneliness”. It is a state of mind. Loneliness is defined
by researchers as feeling lonely more than once a week. That’s hard to assess, right? When you’re lonely, you may not have the capacity nor desire, to actually count the hours and days of feeling so horrid.
I like this definition: “ Loneliness is distressing to experience that occurs
when a person’s social relationships are perceived by that person to be
less in quantity, and especially in quality than desired. “
This means that you have people around you but the quantity and quality
are not what pleases you, not what makes you feel well-nourished. You
long for more from your relationships and not getting this depth or
richness, leaves you feeling lonely.

Once again, I say, you are not alone. Some facts :

In a recently published study in the UK, 20 percent of adults under 35
have one or no friends.
A separate survey showed that the number of adults in the UK who feel
lonely often or always has risen in the past year from 5 percent to 7.2
percent of the population — an extra 1.1 million people.

Loneliness is a public health concern. Here is why: Health problems
experienced by lonely people include heart problems, depression, higher
stress, decreased memory, drug abuse risk, brain changes.

And interestingly, people close to someone experiencing loneliness were
52% more likely to become lonely as well.

But it’s not just in the UK: loneliness is a huge problem across the
western world and the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. Men have
been particularly hard hit.
The most significant problem that persists when it comes to lonely men
is that far too often, men don’t recognize they’re alone, and worse yet if
they do, they are too afraid to admit.

Here are 5 reasons why men are so lonely:

  1. Men fear appearing weak : Men are socialised to be manly and
    strong. This expectation of what it is to be a man leads to feeling
    abandoned, isolated, pressured into certain behaviors and not
    ever complaining.
  2. Men don’t talk about their feelings : Toxic masculinity requires
    men not to feel and not to talk about how they feel. They are
    rewarded for disassociating from their emotional brain and relying
    on their rational brain. The result is Loneliness.
  3. Men are not comfortable being vulnerable: to have friends
    requires exposure of emotions , empathy and compassion . Men
    cannot talk about their feelings. Too often I hear men disparage
    their female partner as being “too emotional” . it cuts too close to
    their hearts and thus retract into loneliness.
  4. Toxic Masculinity : entitlement , primacy as a gender, sets the
    stage for men to be lonely.
  5. Few Bonding opportunities: sport clubs, shebeens, bars, team
    sports, military may be the only possible spaces for men to bond.
    Loneliness occurs as these offer limited scripted interactions.
    The most important fact for you to know about loneliness is that being
    raised in a home of absent parents/caregivers, leave syou susceptible to
    finding it challenging to connect with people. And will leave you feeling
    lonely lifelong unless you manage it well.

You exhibit a few of these signs of loneliness:

  1. Inability to connect with others on a deeper level
  2. No close or best friends
  3. Overwhelming feelings of isolation regardless of where you are
    and who you’re around
  4. Negative feelings of self-doubt and self-worth
  5. When you try to reach out, you’re not heard
  6. Exhaustion and burnout when trying to engage socially

Ideas on managing loneliness for men :

  1. Acknowledge it . This is not shameful. Loneliness deserves
    respectful attention.
  2. Reach out to a professional
  3. Reach out to people with whom you are merely acquainted—just
    to begin to be in human contact, until you build up self esteem.
  4. Self care will assist you in building your confidence.

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